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Used And Dumped: The Children Who Will Come Back To Haunt The North.



They are in their hundreds. Anywhere you go in Nigeria, they are there, on the streets, lined up in their poorly sewn uniforms, scrounging for food or begging on the streets, empty food bowl in hand, miserable looking, lost in time.

They are children of the north, born in the north, localised in that geographical area or transported to other parts of the country to be mentored by so called Islamic teachers, who are ideally meant to tutor them on the tenements of Islam.

They are called Almajiri.

Almajiri, according to Wikipedia, is “a system of Islamic education practiced in northern Nigeria and it is also the name for a young boy who is taught within this system. The Hausa word Almajiri is derived from the Arabic word, “al-Muhajirun,” which refers to a person who migrated his home in search of Islamic knowledge.”

In times past, in this same Nigeria, an Islamic teacher who was born in those days explains that the Almajiri schools which existed in northern Nigeria were preparatory schools for young boys who were groomed on the Quoran in their younger age before being absorbed into formal English educational system. This scholar alleges that some of Nigeria’s big men today who went further to acquire high educational qualifications actually attended the Almajiri preparatory schools.

If this postulation is to be believed, it would seem that the Almajiri system of Quoranic education went back to its original form of migrating from the person’s original home in search of unadulterated Islamic knowledge.

The Almajiri story of the north is indeed a sad tale of twists and turns.

With population explosion aided by extreme poverty, many parents absconded their primary responsibities of parenting, willingly abandoning their children to the Almajiri system without a care.

It is a known fact that many of these forgotten children are products of parents who disregard family planning, marrying more wives than they are capable of caring for and breeding as many children as their loins can produce. These children are thrust into the Almajiri system and the parent may never see them again. In their reasoning, the child has a better chance surviving under an Islamic scholar.

If this were truly the situation, the Almajiri today won’t be lost and rejected. The fact is that most of these scholars can barely fend for themselves and with too many mouths to feed, the children are sent to the streets to not only beg for food, scrounge for left over from canteens and restaurants scattered all over town, it is also their responsibilities to bring food back to their teacher and solicit for money to take back to him.

The Almajiri system is an exploitative, cast system which denegrades the dignity of the child and turns him into a menace and threat to society when he comes to full adulthood.

The young boys were tolerated until now because of their nuisance value to politicians and elites who use them during elections either as underage voters or terrorise political enemies. They also tacitly approved the Almajiri system as it provided a horde of willing army ready for use for thuggery, riots and violence of all kinds.

The boy who was an Almajiri 15years ago, is now a full grown adult, unemployed, uneducated, untrained and wondering, easy prey for the next devious venture.

It is on record that an ex- governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwakwanso once reportedly boasted that the Almanjiris were used to vote ex – president Jonathan out of power.

Ironically, Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan had anticipated the Almanjiri explosion we see today and had tried to check it by establishing schools which were called Almajiri schools with the aim of getting the boys off the streets. Unfortunately the dream of educating Nigeria’s most neglected children ended with the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.

During the 2019 general elections, images again surfaced of underage voters but no serious effort was taken by anyone to investigate the allegations.

From north to south, down to the east, the number of Almanjiris swelled. With no feasible health care, ramshakled living spaces, exposure to all the elements on the streets, it was inevitable that when such a highly commumicable disease as COVID19 entered the Nigerian communities, these street children were the undoubtedly the most vulnerable. Reports say of 18 Almanjiris tested by Kaduna State, 16 tsted positive for COVID19. The boys tested were the rejected and cast of by Kano State.

As if on cue, every other state in Nigeria is deporting its Almajiri population as many are rejecting taking them in. The Almajiri has suddenly become leprous, contagious and treated as such by the Nigerian elite.

It is on record that the erstwhile Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi had warned about a day like this but the northern elitist governments shunned his advice.

Nobody owns an Almajiri. He is a child of the world, a scavenger left to roam and wonder without a future, education or trade. He belongs to nobody and now nobody is willing to accept him.

The north seems to be saying: “They are no longer our Almanjiris”.

This is the twisted tale of the Nigerian Almajiri.

From Opera News Hub

Nelly Agwu is an educationist, a journalist, a Blogger, graduate of History. Very dynamic and a realist. A mouthpiece of the oppressed. Easy going and a Philanthropist.

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